Heritage of Dragonsreach (UPDATED September 4, 2007)


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    Heritage of Dragonsreach (UPDATED September 4, 2007)

    This campaign began in April 2005. It's set in the Forgotten Realms, as you can see, but we've made a few alterations. The city of Dragonsreach is located in Thesk. It is the seat of worship of a draconic deity, known only as the Lady. She is a patroness of knowledge among other things. Heritage is the university in Dragonsreach, which draws scholars from all over Faerun.

    Our characters have a big destiny, but they're just beginning to find their way toward it. To aid them on their way, we each randomly chose a Heroic Path from the Midnight setting. These paths are the blessings referred to in Thilme's journal.

    The players are now all ENworld forum members, so I've included their user names below.
    Cast of characters (all are currently 4th level):
    Hedrin K'Von - human male warlock/ranger, Beast path (Player: Hedrin)
    Latan - female Killoren druid/sorcerer, Elemental path (Player: Jubilee)
    Percy - (NPC) human male rogue, Pureblood path (Player/GM: Zora)
    Roland Cassius St. Emerus - human male bard/marshal, Guardian path (Player: Devo)
    Thilme' Gilgalen - female moon elf bard, Quickened path (Player: Sniffles)

    ___________________________________
    Begin at the Beginning

    Naneth asked me to keep a journal of our activities on behalf of the Lady. I expect she hopes someday to have it in the archives. Unfortunately I was remiss in making any notes about our recent mission to the mountain in search of goblins. But I should begin with who we are, as perhaps someday someone who doesn't know me will read this story.

    We are the proud servants of the Lady who bear the name of the Silver Claws. I am Thilme' Gilgalen, daughter of Ithriel and Taurendil of Dragonsreach. My mother is an archivist in the library of Heritage. My father is a guardian of Dragonsreach, patrolling the mountain slopes beyond the city. We are of the Tel'Quessir, those the other folk of Faerun call moon elves.

    My four companions are Roland Cassius St. Emerus, a young man (even by human standards) but endowed with great charm and wit; Hedrin K'Von, another young man gifted with special powers that some find disturbing; Latan, one of the Killoren folk, left on the doorstep of the temple in infancy; and the ever faithful and soft-spoken Percy, who presents himself as a mere manservant but is so much more.

    I won't say that I knew any of my new friends well before we were assigned to the same company, though I was best aware of Roland, as we've had some of the same masters at Heritage. But I also knew of Latan, having seen her often in the forest outside the city walls, and Hedrin also could often be found there. We make an odd group, none of us being truly strong fighters (except possibly Hedrin), but I think we balance each other well.

    We had been sent out into the Lady's territory to seek out goblins and hill giants that were reportedly troubling the area. The giants don't live within the Lady's territory, but Dragonsreach has no feud with them. The goblins were not much trouble for us, though we did discover a flaw in the makeup of our small company: all of us but Percy need plenty of rest in order to ply our spells during the day. We could hardly ask Percy to stay awake every night to guard us - and as clever and useful as Percy is in a pinch, he's no warrior. We've worked out an awkward watch schedule to manage our difficulty, and I've purchased a guard dog named Gylf to give us an extra set of eyes and ears.

    To return to our mission: we eliminated the goblins easily enough, as they were not very bright and were equipped with only the crudest of weapons. But we had discovered that they were following a hill giant about and treating him as though he was a god. The hill giant, Garn, was only a youth, but already much bigger than most of his kindred. That may account for the way the goblins were behaving. Garn didn't want anything to do with the goblins. He'd been injured somehow, his leg badly wounded, and the goblins had evidently been trying to look after him, though not very effectively.

    Latan gave him what healing she could offer, and we helped him make a crutch from a tree trunk so he could get home to his village. Latan worried that his leg wouldn't heal well, but there was little we could do at the time. We were relieved that there was no real trouble with the hill giants. And that this mission was more successful than our first mission as the Silver Claws. We didn't lose anyone this time.

    Quips & Quotes for this session:

    Hedrin: "I cast tickling blow. Make a Reflex save or pee yourself."

    Jubilee: "I prestidigitate the log."
    Devo: "Wow, that's the cleanest log I've ever seen."
    sniffles: "I mend the log and it turns back into a tree."

    Jubilee: "Wouldn't that be a Will save?"
    Devo: "Most likely be a won't save."

    _________________________________________

    The Wards of Dragonsreach

    It's been too long since I last wrote here. But recent events are worth telling. Though I've lived all my life thus far in Dragonsreach, I've seldom seen a dragon. The Lady doesn't present herself in her true form often. I hope I never see another dragon in the same manner that I saw one that day. I was merely walking across the square when a red dragon swooped down and issued a challenge to our Lady - what a fool to think even the greatest of his kind could challenge a goddess! Still, he was awe-inspiring and terrifying to behold. Most of the people in the square, myself included, fell to the ground in abject terror. I barely caught a glimpse of Roland and saw that somehow he'd not succumbed to the wave of fearfulness that preceeded the dragon.

    The dragon breathed a cloud of flames at us as we cowered there, but the flames struck some invisible force and never reached the ground. Then the archmage Alvin strode out through the main gate into the Lady's mountain. Some folk whisper that Alvin is really the Lady in disguise. Whatever the case, Alvin had his apprentice blow a horn, and then hundreds of crossbow bolts rained on the dragon. Many of them had streamers attached to them, which wound themselves around the dragon until he could no longer move. He went crashing to the ground, safely beyond the city.

    Once the dragon was trussed up, he was carried off and deposited well beyond Dragonsreach, or so I heard. I also heard that one of his fangs was taken as a trophy - surely a shameful moment for such a magnificent (yet terrible) creature.

    The arrival of the dragon made any later events seem minor, even the arrival of the famous performer Telemachus Steel. Roland and I both were given the opportunity to perform in his presence. I'm afraid my recitation was not as stirring as I should have liked. I hadn't enough time to write a really good poem about the dragon's appearance, and in all honesty it wasn't quite exciting enough for a good poem anyway. The Lady protects her city well.

    We've heard recently that the giants are troubled: they report an eye tyrant is harrassing them. They've sought the Lady's aid. We'd heard of an eye tyrant a year ago when we met the young giant Garn, and it seems those reports were true. The Silver Claws have been asked to visit the giants to seek more information. We will be taking some trade goods along to gain their favor; Roland is seeing to that. I'm going to see Naneth to find out more about beholders and their kin.

    ____________________________________
    The Challenge of the Giants

    After I'd said farewell to Naneth and Ada, I joined my friends and we made our way up the mountain toward the hill giants' villages. Roland warned us that the giants might challenge us in some way before we could treat with them. After we passed beyond the dwarven boundary stones that mark the end of the Lady's official territory, Hedrin and Roland spotted some large tracks, though not large enough to be those of a giant. Hedrin caught a scent and used his keen nose to follow it. He was so intent on following the scent that he almost ran right into the ogre.

    The ogre didn't seem threatening, and when Hedrin and Roland explained what we were doing there he gestured for us to follow him. We came to an enclosure containing 3 huts and some animal pens. There were a number of ogres at the largest hut. Our guide went in and talked with someone for a little while. We waited nervously, surrounded by other ogres. Hedrin told us he heard a female voice. Then our guide came out and said, "She will see you shortly". We had no idea who he referred to, but Roland and Latan began looking in our trade goods for something to give 'her' as a gift.

    We noticed while we were waiting that there was a banner flying over the enclosure with a symbol resembling a Z emblazoned on it, and the ogres had the same symbol tattooed on their left arms. But that didn't prepare us for meeting their leader: it was a human woman!
    She introduced herself as Zeela. She was a rugged-looking individual, but well-spoken. After Roland introduced us all and explained our purpose for coming, Zeela told us that before we could proceed further we would have to pass a challenge, just as Roland had advised.

    The challenge turned out to be combat with several of the ogre warriors. We were all allowed to fight them at once, thank the Lady. I know I haven't the ability to fight an ogre on my own, although I am strong for my size. The combat would be decided by whomever surrendered or fell unconscious first. They didn't prohibit use of magic, so Latan opened with a spell. It missed, but so did the ogre who swung at her. A second ogre struck Hedrin, who began clawing and biting them, all surrounded by the strange black energy he can summon. I drew my longsword and began wielding it the way Ada and Captain K'Von taught me.

    Percy bravely stepped in with us and got himself backhanded for his trouble. Latan stepped back and saved most of her spellcasting for healing us. Hedrin brought one ogre down himself, but the second one went into a rage and knocked Roland to the ground. Hedrin clawed him, and I managed a good cut with my sword. Percy even hit the ogre with his handy stool. Hedrin was staggering at this point, but he managed with a great effort of will to claw the ogre one more time, and the second one joined his companion in the dirt. Hedrin practically fell on top of the downed ogre.

    I quickly retrieved a wand of healing that I knew Roland carried and used it for Roland, Percy and myself, while Latan helped Hedrin. I must admit, I could hardly believe we'd won. As I've said before, fighting is not our strongest talent, or at least not the one in which most of us have trained. But you can't defeat an enraged ogre with a speech or a story.

    After we succeeded at the challenge, Zeela took a great interest in Roland and asked him to join her privately in her hut that evening. I took out my candle of healthful rest to burn while the rest of us took our ease. Hedrin went off to meditate in a tree - he always feels a bit ashamed after he shows his more animalistic side. Latan went foraging in the forest, her favorite thing to do when she isn't chatting with Isaura, her air elemental companion, or Cabor, her frog.

    Later on we saw the ogre who had guided us to their camp leaving for a bit, though not by the same direction from which we'd come. Then we were invited to dine with the ogres, and shared out our food with them. Most of the ogres left after the meal, but our guide remained. Roland asked Zeela how she'd come to be living among the ogres. She told us she'd defeated the ogre leader 5 years earlier, but didn't elaborate on why she would have desired such a position.

    We were briefly visited by an ogre shamaness, although I didn't see her for myself. She mentioned to the others that she knew of Garn, the young giant we'd met previously. He was the son of Grishnak, a chief of the hill giants. We hoped that our efforts to help Garn would help us make a good impression on Grishnak when we met him.

    Later Roland went off with Zeela. He's too tactful ever to say what occurred in private. The next morning Zeela gave us a token to show to other ogres. She warned us also of 'wild' giants roaming the area, as well as goblins, and to take care not to anger the shamans. After we took our leave of her we saw goblin sign, but no goblins.

    The first giant village we came upon was very quiet. We approached it slowly, with caution. Hedrin and Latan crept up to peer inside the rude walls. Later they told us they'd seen a lone giant, very ragged and crazed-looking, wandering about. The village was otherwise empty, and looked to them as though it had been so before the ragged giant arrived. We worried whether we should try to sneak by and avoid the giant's notice, or wait to see if he'd leave. Then Hedrin came running back and told us that he'd seen a beholder!

    Bizarrely, the giant had been "playing" with the beholder. He struck it with a tree limb and sent it flying. It landed in the tree where Hedrin was hiding, giving Hedrin a very good look at it. He was sure the beholder had seen him, but it was apparently too concerned with the giant to care about a lone human hiding in a tree. The giant had gone off in pursuit of the beholder.

    After sending one of our carrier pigeons back to Dragonsreach with this news, we hurried through the abandoned village. Roland stumbled upon a gobbet of flesh that looked to Hedrin like it had come from the beholder. Latan decided to preserve it in the event it might be useful later for tracking the creature. That night we had a cold camp, not wanting to draw the attention of either the crazed giant or his playmate.

    The next day we ran into a band of 6 goblins. I didn't use my sword, instead firing my bow at them. These were a little better armed than the goblins we'd last seen. But not much brighter. One of them hit his own companion with his weapon! We managed to be rid of them without much harm to ourselves, other than the arrow I hit poor Gylf with when I missed my aim.

    Next morning we came upon another village, populated by folk that appeared to by a hybrid of giant and ogre kind. They were in the process of packing up all their belongings to move on. Roland displayed the token Zeela had given us and told them, "We've earned the right to be here." The giants were goint to Grishnak's village and agreed that we could travel with them. We befriended a crippled old giant woman who couldn't keep up with the others, as the giants naturally outdistanced us quickly. The old woman spoke with us, and warned us of Grishnak's advisor, a fellow called Lawpik - she said that Lawpik claimed there was no beholder threat, and some of the giants thought he was in league with it. But despite this he had Grishnak's ear.

    _________________________________________________
    Trouble on the Mountain

    By the following morning the giants had left us far behind. Even our elderly companion outpaced us. It took us two more days to reach Grishnak's village, which was full of refugees. This was a much larger and better defended village than the other giant enclosures we'd seen, surrounded by a log palisade, with four giants on guard and the entrance. They barred our way with poles as big as tree trunks - they probably were tree trunks. We sensed a little hostility from them.

    Percy, who somehow has managed to learn the giant tongue, translated for us and explained that there were other humans in the village. We were startled by this, wondering who they could be. Then the old woman we'd walked with came out to meet us, and we were surprised again by how deferential the guards were to her. She was evidently someone of importance, though we never heard anyone call her anything other than Granny. We'd been able to converse with her in the dragon's tongue, and now she told us that the other human visitors were from Thay, and were favored by Lawpik.

    While we were wondering how and why the Thayans had come here, young Garn appeared. I'd forgotten how much bigger he was than his kinfolk. He must have titan blood. We saw then that our best efforts to treat his wounded leg had been in vain - it had been amputated. He hopped along with an enormous tree trunk as a crutch. But Garn seemed happy enough to see us and didn't hold it against us that we hadn't been able to save his leg.

    Garn took us off to the longhouse to meet his parents. Alongside his father, Grishnak, we saw his mother, M'rolia, who's a handsome woman for a giantess. There was a long line of giants waiting to see their chieftain, and we had to wait several hours to be introduced. We caught sight of the Thayans watching us.

    It was early evening by the time we were presented to Garn's parents. When Grishnak asked, "What do you have to offer?", Roland told him that Dragonsreach had a great deal of help to offer the giants. The Thayans had apparently brought a large quantity of forged steel, but Grishnak was much more pleased with the finished weapons we'd brought along. The Thayans didn't look happy about that.

    After our audience with the chief we were taken to Garn's hut to rest. Suddenly, as we were talking with Garn, Latan noticed that Percy had a token in the form of a feather, which she told him would allow him to send a message to Dragonsreach without having to use our other pigeon. It was a family heirloom and Percy had no idea it was magical. We sent off a message at once to warn Dragonsreach about the Thayan presence among the giants. Then we told Garn of our encounter - or should I say Hedrin's encounter - with the beholder. Garn went immediately to impart this information to his father.

    In the morning we met with Grishnak again. We discovered that M'rolia spoke the draconic language and had more experience of humans than her husband. She's a wise advisor. But Grishnak is no fool. Hedrin was moved to confess to M'rolia that he's of the folk who are known as warlocks, and she admitted that she has such powers also!

    In addition to speaking with M'rolia, this time we met Lawpik. He was an odious, sinister fellow - I couldn't see how Grishnak could let him near. He turned out to be a shaman, so Latan gave him the bit of beholder flesh, which caused him to look concerned. While we explained that we'd come only to gather information, Hedrin noticed one of the guards seemed anxious when Dragonsreach was mentioned. Grishnak was nervous too, obviously feeling uncomfortable with the Thayans and trapped by his responsibility to his people, who were looking to the well-armed Thayans to eliminate the beholder.

    Roland suggested that the Thayans be sent to Dragonsreach to seek permission to hunt the beholder. The beholder wasn't seen within the bounds of the Lady's territory, but if it passed that boundary the Thayans could follow it without incurring her displeasure. The Thayans were brought in for this discussion, and I observed with amusement that their leader, a man by the name of Rex, appeared to be wearing false hair!

    __________________________________________________ __
    Red Wizards

    Hedrin sensed magic surrounding Rex, although he claimed to be a warrior not a wizard. Roland sensed evil intent in him. Rex began attempting to make us look bad in the giants' eyes, while trying to convince them that the Thayans were the only ones who could help them. I tried to help Roland by speaking out on our behalf, but I chose my words poorly. Grishnak shouted "Enough!" He commanded both groups to pursue the beholder. He told us he would send someone from his tribe with both of our parties, Garn with us and Lawpik with the Thayans. Roland then suggested that we should all work together, in his most charming manner, but the Thayans refused.

    Then Grishnak made our hearts sink when he announced that the party that successfully rid him of the beholder would gain the loyalty of the Three Rivers tribe. I know he would have preferred to send the Thayans away, but many of his people would have protested had he done so. I thought Rex looked very smug at the chieftain's proclamation.

    We left the longhouse with Garn and a guard, preparing to send two messages back to Dragonsreach. Then we went in search of Granny. Roland asked her to take the trade goods we'd brought and see to trading them with her people. They agreed that she would retain a portion of the profits. It seemed that she was definitely on our side, and she appeared to be quite amused but willing to help us.

    We left the giants' village after noon. As we traveled we discussed everything we knew about Thayans with Garn. Roland has a fair amount of knowledge of them. We had decided to follow them to keep an eye on their activities. We fortunately had an uneventful night; I suppose few creatures would threaten us in Garn's presence. But the following day Hedrin lost the Thayans' tracks. He suspected some magic might be responsible. Latan sent Isaura ahead to search for them and warn us, and the air elemental returned to tell us that there were people ahead, although it wasn't certain they were the Thayans. Air elementals of Isaura's kind are not terribly clever.

    Then Hedrin stumbled upon something that at first looked like a dead animal, but which he recognized quickly was Rex's hair. The Thayans turned up moments later, Rex accusing us of stealing his hairpiece. Hedrin hadn't been able to resist remarking, "Lose something?" when they arrived, which only further incensed Rex. Rex attacked Hedrin. Soon we were in combat with the whole Thayan group. We discovered that the true wizard was at the back of the group, flinging spells at Garn. To our amazement Garn was unharmed. We were even more impressed when the young giant hurled an enormous boulder at Lawpik, who was also behind the Thayan party.

    Lawpik began chanting and yelling. He cast a spell of his own at Garn, but again Garn seemed immune to its effects. Garn shouted in fury and blue-white energy shot startlingly from his fingers! He felled the Thayan wizard at once. Lawpik tossed an orb of acid and then fled. Garn pursued him while the rest of us continued to struggle with the Thayan warriors.

    Percy hit someone with his ever-present stool, then cried out in pain. Latan ran to help him and was wounded herself as she passed one of our foes. Garn threw another rock at Lawpik before he ran out of sight. Gylf kept attacking the guard with whom I was fighting, doing far more injury than I could with my sword. He managed to knock the fellow down so I could stab him easily. It was all over quickly but for one Thayan who refused to surrender and attacked Roland before he fell.

    I took out my wand to treat our wounds. Even Latan availed herself of it, having used up her own spells on Percy and Roland. Hedrin set about searching the Thayans' corpses, looking for any information about what they'd been up to among the giants.

    _______________________________________________
    "The Friendship of the Three Rivers Tribe"

    We found that the Thayans had carried quite a lot of magical gear on their persons, including several magic swords, potions, and a belt for carrying potions. The wizard had a ring, a wand, and two scrolls in addition to his spellbook, which we took. Hedrin fortunately has a pack that holds far more than would appear possible. We also took their 8 horses. We put their swords on our pack mules, and their bodies on their own horses for transport back to the giants' town.

    On the journey back to town we spoke with Garn about his unusual abilities. It seems he is a weilder of spellfire. Roland encouraged him to go to Dragonsreach and seek entry into Heritage. He seemed doubtful, but it's obvious that there is more to him than his unusual size.

    Once we arrived at the town we found some of the giants angry and muttering when they saw the dead Thayans. When we reached the longhouse, Hedrin noticed a magical aura indicating divination, but we never found out what that meant. Roland explained to Grishnak and M'rolia what had happened to the Thayans. Garn also told his story of what had occurred, including Lawpik's involvement. We learned that Lawpik had returned and claimed that the Thayans had left him, but by the time we arrived he was gone again.

    Granny turned up then, and it was odd to see someone so large as Garn get nervous in her presence. But before we had a chance to speak with her, all of the Silver Claws suddenly felt a terrible sensation, as though something indescribably awful had happened. All of us but Hedrin were doubled over and retching. Strangely, this affected Garn as well, and we were fortunate that when he fell he didn't land on one of us. He fell so hard he broke his nose. Somehow I knew that someone had died, but I had no idea who it might be. It couldn't be my parents, else why would my friends also feel it? And I'd felt this sensation once before, though less intensely.

    When we'd recovered a bit we realized that Garn's mother had also been affected by the strange sensation. Roland immediately asked Grishnak's permission for us to return to Dragonsreach the following day. Grishnak was shocked by what had happened and readily agreed. After Latan gave Garn some healing, we took ourselves back to his house to recover. Percy was the most shaken of all. He kept weeping as he cleaned our gear. Latan went outside to commune with nature. Hedrin meditated in the way Master Keye taught him. Roland drew in his sketchbook. I wrote in my journal.

    Later Garn, who had gone out, returned to tell us that his father had given permission for him to go with us to Dragonsreach. M'rolia had tried to convince her husband to let their son go to Heritage before, but the chief had resisted. The events of the previous day had evidently convinced him to change his mind.

    In the morning we learned that the Thayans' bodies had been burned. Five of their horses were given to us. Latan gave the Quaal's feather token to M'rolia so that they could contact us easily. Before we left, M'rolia asked us to watch over her son, and gave us the traditional greetin of Dragonsreach - she's a most unusual giantess. As we were on our way out of the town we met Granny, who joked that she intended to come with us - I think she did it just to see Garn go pale.

    At about the halfway point of our return journey we met Sir Falco Steelcross coming to the giants from Dragonsreach. Our messages had been received. We turned the spell scrolls we'd found on the Thayans over to his party. Sir Falco told us he'd had the same experience we'd had with the terrible sensation. I think it was then we began to recognize that we are not quite like the other people of Dragonsreach.

    Sir Falco confirmed that someone must have died, though he did not know who. He told us to seek out High Priest Merrick at the Lady's temple. So we continued our journey, saddened by the unknown death yet heartened by our successful dealings among the giants. Grishnak had given us a parchment describing favors owed to Dragonsreach by the Three Rivers tribe - the next step to a treaty, we hoped.

    __________________________________________________ ____
    Among the Blessed

    When we arrived back in Dragonsreach we were immediately told to see one of the high priests, Father Merrick, while Garn was sent off elsewhere (I still don't know where he's being housed!). Father Merrick spoke with us, not giving us much opportunity to speak ourselves. He told us about the terrible sensation we'd felt, how it heralded the death of someone, and how it meant we are specially blessed by the Lady. Of course, it didn't seem much like a blessing at the time. We can sense when others like ourselves die violently. One of our kind is slaying others of our kind. But no one knows why.

    After our meeting, Roland remarked that he thought it was an act of sorts, that Father Merrick was reciting a prepared speech. The room had been very carefully organized to put us in a receptive frame of mind. I remembered then that Father Merrick is also a master of dramatics at Heritage. Roland seemed rather unhappy about the show on our behalf. But I felt both confused and flattered. It was hard to absorb what we were being told about ourselves, even though Sir Falco had hinted at some of it.

    We were ordered by Commander K'Von to return to our barracks and remain there. Sometimes I forget that Commander K'Von is Hedrin's father. He's so distant toward his son, so unlike my Ada. I suppose it must be hard for him having his own son under his command.

    Since he hadn't told us to stay confined to our own room, nor said that we couldn't have visitors, Roland sent a message to ask some of his family to come and talk. We didn't know how much of what was happening to us had affected people outside the militia and temple. It turned out that no one else knew much about it. We did learn that Heritage was closed for a day after the event, but that was all the information we could gather on our own.

    The next morning we were ordered to see Cmdr. K'Von again, and he told us we would be receiving three days of "counseling", during which we were still confined to barracks and the temple area. Hedrin then had a long visit with his father, though not I think a very pleasant one. The rest of us went off to occupy ourselves with other activities. I found a quiet corner of the practice yard where I could rehearse some dance steps. I think Latan was up in a tree. Roland went back to our room to think. Then we felt another of those episodes. I fell down, Latan fell out of the tree, and Cmdr. K'Von was very startled I guess to see what happened to his son, although Hedrin was apparently able to withstand it better than the rest of us. I'm envious of Roland, since he was lying on a bunk at the time.

    We were all sent off to see Father Merrick again once we'd recovered. He admitted that they still didn't know quite what had occurred, except that another of the Blessed had been killed. But they didn't know who it was. Even if every one of the Blessed could feel such a death, no one knew who all the Blessed were or where. No one in Dragonsreach had been killed.

    We went off to mull this over, but Percy didn't join us back in our room. Later we learned that he wouldn't be coming back right away. Our reserved, helpful Percy had got into trouble. He's always been the butt of jokes and insults because he isn't a warrior. Some young militia members had been harrassing him and he'd felt forced to defend himself. Unfortunately he'd managed to do a serious injury to his foe.

    Hedrin ran into the companions of the injured person and had a little altercation. They were members of a company called the Wyverns. He tried to defend Percy against their insults, and ended up issuing a challenge. The winner would take the name Silver Claws and have the right to rename the other company. A clever prize, though looking back it makes me cringe to think what might have happened. Roland wasn't too pleased with Hedrin's challenge. The Silver Claws have a proud history, and he didn't want that sullied by a silly disagreement.

    Cmdr. K'Von got behind this challenge quickly; later we learned he'd posted announcements everywhere. Instead of being angry he seemed proud of his son for defending a teammate. The next morning we arrived in the practice yard to find that every company in the militia seemed to be waiting there. We were reunited with Percy. The previous evening it had seemed that Hedrin would have to fight the Wyverns on his own, as Percy was terribly ashamed about hurting someone and didn't want to fight. But he'd changed his mind by morning. He couldn't let his team down.

    Cmdr. K'Von chose the weapons, practice weapons thankfully, and explained that no magic would be allowed - which didn't prohibit Hedrin from using his warlock powers since that isn't ordinary magic but an innate ability. Then Hedrin and Percy faced off against two of the Wyverns.

    My heart leapt into my throat and down to my stomach during the combat. Hedrin took a couple of serious blows, but he dealt some serious ones as well. Percy was so agile with his stool, trapping the Wyverns' blades between its legs so Hedrin could get a clear shot. Then one Wyvern went down, and Percy went down, and it was hard to say if Hedrin could win. But Percy turned out to be playing a trick: he tripped the Wyvern fellow, and Hedrin knocked him over. Percy passed out after that - he's not a hardy person.

    Hedrin then had a moment of wisdom as he was asked what name he'd give to the losers. We'd joked before the fight about naming them all sorts of insulting things. But Hedrin realized that if we did that we'd only create further hard feelings. He left them with their own name, a name that has a history nearly as prestigious as the Silver Claws. I'll bet they'll be called the Mudfaces behind their backs for a long while, though.

    __________________________________________________ ________
    Prophecy

    After that we felt a bit better about everything, and Percy wasn't punished any further. Then we got another surprise: Father Merrick told us that as part of our "counseling" we would be seeing the Seeress Shandaria! Over the next two days we met with Father Merrick one at a time to discuss our experiences of the two deaths, and what it meant to be among the Blessed. Perhaps someday I'll include that in this journal, but not now. It's still too fresh in my mind.

    On the third day we were each sent to the Seeress. She seldom comes down from her mountain, so it was both an honor and rather frightening. We were told not to ask any questions, and not to touch her. It seems that those who see her are only allowed one question ever within their lives.

    The Seeress is a lovely woman of my own people, but wears a veil over her eyes. She told me only a single sentence, more of a warning than a prophecy. "Some books are not meant to be read." That was all. Of course, that's a great deal to me, as I love to read and believe information should be shared with all.

    I was next to last of our company to see her. As I was on my way out of the temple I heard a commotion and an alarm was sounded. I couldn't restrain my curiosity and stepped back inside to see what was happening. To my shock I saw two priests hurrying out of the inner chambers carrying a stretcher - and on the stretcher lay Percy!

    I ran back to our room to tell my friends, and we all set off at once for the infirmary. There were guards at the entrance, but Roland was able to quickly persuade them to let us pass. Then we met Father Merrick. We've seen more of him in the past week than I've seen in my whole life, I think. Or perhaps I should say his whole life, although it seems he's unusually long-lived for a human.

    Father Merrick wasn't entirely certain what had happened, but it seemed that Percy had done both of the things we'd been told not to do in the presence of the Seeress: he'd asked her a question and touched her person. It wasn't out of foolishness or malice, though. Apparently when he came into the room the Seeress had suddenly cried out in pain and clutched at her head, and Percy had asked if he could help, then moved to catch hold of her before she fell.

    The Seeress told Father Merrick that she had foreseen this would happen. It was meant to occur. Percy had "helped" her by taking on her power of prophecy for a short while, allowing her to spend a day as an ordinary person. Unfortunately her power was too much for an ordinary mind to bear, even one of the Blessed. As we stood outside the private room where Percy was being cared for, we could hear him babbling in a hundred different tongues, talking so fast that he could scarcely be understood.

    The priests feared that this power might leave Percy permanently mad, as such a thing had evidently occurred before with just that result. But the Seeress seemed to think Percy would be all right. We were relieved that the priests didn't make us leave. We were allowed to stay in the room with him. No one knew whether touching him would have the same result as touching the Seeress, but Latan took a chance and laid a hand on him. He sat bolt upright in the big bed and suddenly cried out quite clearly something about "going for the heart", in Latan's native tongue, which I know as well.

    Hedrin caught hold of Percy's shoulders when he sat up so suddenly, and now Percy began making strange snarling and growling sounds like a beast. Hedrin looked quite startled at this. When we came into the room we'd seen that there were five scribes present, all frantically writing down everything they could make out of Percy's ravings, but I don't know if any of them could understand the noises he made then. I found myself trying not to look at what the scribes wrote, wondering if this was what was meant by the Seeress's warning to me.

    Quite a lot of other people came to see Percy, though I don't know if it was out of concern for him or only out of morbid curiosity. Not all of them were allowed in the room. Father Merrick stayed quite a lot of the time, listening to Percy's babbling. Once he snatched a piece of parchment from a scribe and stared at it intently. He was about to leave when Roland spoke.

    Roland wondered if touching Percy would give him more clarity about his prophecy. Latan wasn't very happy with this idea, accusing him of taking advantage of his friend for his own personal gain. Father Merrick stepped in and suggested that it would be wise to learn as much as we could since the Seeress had said this would last only a day. So against Latan's wishes Roland tried touching Percy. Percy spoke in a tongue I don't know, the native tongue of Roland's homeland, but it seemed to be quite significant to Roland. He looked very grave afterward.

    Father Merrick then told us to leave for a bit and return after dark. He wanted to speak with Roland privately. I went to the library for bit and found one of my favorite books of poetry and a quiet corner to read, thinking that surely it couldn't do any harm to read a book I'd already read. But I found I couldn't concentrate.

    When we returned Roland met us with a female companion: Shandaria! She looked quite ordinary now, her eyes unveiled. I forgot to mention that Percy's eyes had turned an opalescent white. This must be why the Seeress normally wears a veil. She'd been to the theatre with Roland. I felt great pity for her then. I don't want to know my own future, let alone those of hundreds of other people.

    The Seeress seemed to know to the exact moment when Percy would recover. She predicted he might suffer from bad dreams, but otherwise would have no ill effects from this experience. After she departed we decided to stay the night in Percy's room. The priests, especially Hedrin's mother, who's a healer, had been casting restorative spells on him so that he was in good condition, although losing his voice a bit.

    I didn't touch Percy. I don't want to know anything else about my prophecy. I would think and worry on it too much. I didn't quite know what to do as we hovered over Percy's bedside. During the night I took a turn at dabbing his brow with a damp cloth and dribbling water between his parched lips, but it wasn't comfortable for me. Latan is a healer and took to it easily, and the others are so fond of Percy... I just felt out of place.

    Latan could tell the time quite accurately, and was watching Percy intently when on the following day he quite abruptly came back to normal and sat up, his eyes returned to their natural brown shade. He didn't recall much of what had occurred, which is a good thing I believe. He got up quite shakily, surprised to find himself so strong and tidy after such an ordeal (Latan had been keeping him clean with her spells all night). Father Merrick concurred that going home would be the best thing for him. So Hedrin walked him home. I gave him a hug before he left, feeling relieved to see him back as his usual self.

    Father Merrick had given Roland a message earlier, scheduling another meeting with all of us together, but Roland had been so distracted he'd forgotten to tell us. He was very apologetic. When we met with the father, he told us more about the person believed to be killing the Blessed. This person is a holy warrior of Dragonsreach, Lerner Provol, who set out some 15 years ago to seek out the Blessed who don't live in Thesk and make a record of their blessings. He was once a member of another Silver Claws company.

    Father Merrick continued by telling us of this man's companions, who were like us all Blessed - a very unusual situation, he confided. Along with Provol had gone Diceros Sondaicus, a human wrestler who could withstand great pain; Creed, a human Shadowwalker of great stealth; Alyssa Dawnstar, an elven woman both warrior and mage; and her husband Palisara Machvalana, known as Chance, an elven archer who could tamper with the powers of magic.

    As we wondered what it was that had caused Lerner Provol to turn against other Blessed, we made many conjectures as to his motivation. Perhaps he thinks that some of the Blessed are some kind of abomination to the Lady. Perhaps he believes that their power steals power from her and weakens her. Or he may have come to think that by killing others he can absorb their blessings himself. Possibly the unidentified deaths we have sensed may have been those of his companions.

    As we spoke of this, Roland decided to share his prophecy with us, feeling it pertinent to our situation. The Seeress had told him: "Ware the lion in black, for it seeks answers to the wrong questions; its silver claws are tarnished, its search gone awry".
    But when he touched Percy, he had heard words to this effect: "Grief and pain lie in your path. May sweet music and brave songs bring you ease until you find joy again". And also these words: "The lion knows you and the lion hunts you".

    Roland is convinced that Provol will seek him out and try to kill him. Latan argues that we should not place so much faith in prophecy. Father Merrick has told us that he was written a book, kept in the temple's private archives, which catalogs the blessings. He and the other high priest, Father Borabyl, will confer over whether to let us see this book. It made Latan angry that we might not be allowed to see it. I wondered if this was what my prophecy referred to, and told my friends. But on reflection, it occured to me that some books are not meant to be read because they are meant to be written.
    Last edited by sniffles; Wednesday, 5th September, 2007 at 12:46 AM.
    It's all fun and games until someone loses a die.

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    Wonderful beginning! Reads very much like a bardic account of events. I like it.
    DM in Don't laugh.... it's coming story hour! & The Acrimonious Adventurer Association Or please try out these little story hours that could: The Realms of Enlightenment: The Grey Companions or Dark Heresy - Agents of the Inquisition where I play Ave'

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    VERY well done! More! More!

    I especially want to hear more about this "Roland" fellow. Sounds like a real charmer!



    D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devo
    VERY well done! More! More!

    I especially want to hear more about this "Roland" fellow. Sounds like a real charmer!



    D.


    Now could you post a constructive comment, please?
    It's all fun and games until someone loses a die.

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    Dragon Days

    After the events and revelations of the past few weeks, it's a relief to have a mission. Though I must confess it's rather an unusual mission. We are not warriors in the traditional sense, as I've said before, but we are members of the city's militia. Thus is seems odd to me that we've been sent on what is essentially a trade mission.

    We sailed to Milvarune to attend the Dragon Days festival there, and to seek out a Waterdavian merchant by the name of Steward Whitetree. This merchant is responsible for transporting trade goods all over the Realms, and the merchants' council of Dragonsreach wish to persuade him to bring his influence and transport network to our fair city.

    Upon reflection, I suppose this mission is ideally suited to Roland's knowledge and talent. He gathered a good deal of information about Master Whitetree from his contacts in the Raeburn household. Latan and I meanwhile did a bit of research in the Archives regarding the people of Waterdeep and what sort of goods might entice them to trade with us. At Roland's behest, we also purchased fine garments to provide us with a more noble appearance. I think Hedrin was not particularly pleased with having to "dress up", especially with wearing shoes. He complains that they press on his long nails. He was much happier when he was able to make a fishing trip with his father on the day before our departure.

    Our journey to Milvarune was uneventful. I found I didn't adapt to shipboard life as quickly as I expected, but I suffered no ill effects. Gylf got along all right, though he spent most of the journey sleeping on my bunk. I'm afraid I smelled rather strongly of dog by the time we reached port. Latan kept trying to have little Isaura blow on the sails, though such a small air elemental could hardly make a handkerchief flutter.

    Once we arrived we proceeded immediately to the Lady's temple and met with a priest who had arranged for our lodgings. We are to stay in a very fine house owned by the temple. Ordinarily it would be let to visitors during the festival. We are very fortunate to have such sumptuous lodgings. We should be able to wine and dine Master Whitetree in style. The house is strategically located on the terraces overlooking the mountain pass. One can see the lower city quite clearly from the balconies, and there are lovely gardens to keep Latan comfortable. We have even been provided with a host of cooks, over whom Percy has taken immediate and surprisingly assertive command.

    After being escorted to Silver Cottage by a young acolyte named Troy, Hedrin and I set off to see the captain of the city guard. We paid him a courtesy call to let him know of our presence, and advise him that we were not in Milvarune on militia business. He seemed pleasant enough in welcoming us, although he may have indicated some hard feelings toward Captain K'Von when he learned who Hedrin was.

    I've visited Milvarune before, but don't know my way about with any certainty. The city is larger than Dragonsreach, and its population is hugely swollen by visitors attending the festival. I hope I'll be able to give some recitations while we're here, though I must be circumspect about my choice of performance - I doubt Master Whitetree would be impressed if he thought one of his hosts was a common street performer.

    After we saw the guard captain Hedrin wanted to look around the city. I don't believe his definition of looking around and mine quite agree. He actually wanted to look at just the city itself, while I wanted to look at all the things in the city. We should have a wonderful view of the wizard-works from Silver Cottage when the festival actually begins.

    Latan seems a bit uncomfortable here. It is much more crowded than Dragonsreach. As a creature of nature she must find it distressing. I suspect she'll spend most of her time at our lodgings, enjoying the gardens. We haven't yet located Master Whitetree; there is someone of that name dwelling in Milvarune, but we don't yet know if this person is the relative the merchant is said to be visiting. I hope we won't have too much difficulty contacting him. But at least we will be able to enjoy the festival!
    It's all fun and games until someone loses a die.

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    Curiouser and Curiouser

    It seems that our visit to Milvarune will be interesting, but perhaps not in the way that we would prefer. While we were roaming the city, Hedrin suddenly began sniffing the air and exclaimed that he'd caught the scent of Laupik! In surprise, I rather foolishly responded, "But he's a giant!". Hedrin pointed out quite reasonably that he's also a shaman and probably has knowledge of spells to disguise or even alter his form. Hedrin tried to find from what direction the scent came, but the town was simply too busy.

    Hedrin then decided that we should return to Silver Cottage at once to warn our companions. I resisted for a moment, and then gave in. I suppose it's just as well to be cautious. But once we returned to the house we found that Roland and Latan had gone out, and Percy had no idea where they were. Hedrin was very worried that they might run into Laupik, so we went out again to look for them. But we had no success. Again, there are simply too many visitors in the town at present. We went back to the house again, and this time found that Latan had returned on her own. She told us Roland was out and about. Hedrin wasn't happy about this, but there was no practical way to locate Roland, so we awaited his return.

    Hedrin and I had left immediately after being shown to the house, and had yet to choose our bedchambers. Silver Cottage is a bit pretentious as a name; while it isn't the largest house in Milvirune, it might better be called a mansion. The bedchambers are each as large as our barracks room. I selected one at the back of the house that opens into the charming garden. Hedrin chose one of the front rooms overlooking the town. Percy is really in his element here, ordering the servants about with aplomb. I've never seen him quite so assertive.

    Once Roland returned we told him about Hedrin's experience, and he in turn told us that he'd left a message for Master Whitetree with the captain of the Whitetree ship. There was little else for us to do then, other than enjoy our accomodations and the fine meal the cooks prepared for us. In the course of our explorations, we'd learned of a few persons of note who were in the town for the festival, including the bard Telemachus Steel, a famed Amazon jouster called Ruby, and several infamous chefs. We've all decided to participate in some of the activities and competitions that will take place during the festival. Hedrin will compete in swordsmanship, wrestling and running. I plan to try some poetry recitation and storytelling, and even entered the limerick contest, although I have no hope of winning against all the gnomes who dwell in the area. I think Roland will do some oration. Latan is not interested in giving any public performance, but she did offer to come with me and use her magic to enhance my storytelling.

    Roland received a response to his invitation: Master Whitetree and his nephew will come to join us for viewing the fireworks that open the festival. A little presumptious, it seems, but Roland did invite him to come at his convenience. Hedrin's first sword bout is today at noon, and we plan to attend the opening parade this evening, so it will be a busy day.

    Hedrin won all four of his sword bouts. He did himself proud. The parade was very enjoyable, with jugglers, tumblers, wild beasts, and even a hippogriff. Afterward we hurried back to the house to meet Master Whitetree. We found that he'd already arrived, along with his nephew Josef the cobbler. Master Whitetree is an older man of rather reserved demeanor. His nephew lives here in Milvarune, where he is a shoemaker as I said, and he seemed to feel a bit out of place at our somewhat formal gathering. I wonder why his uncle made him feel obliged to come.

    Master Whitetree declined most of our refreshments other than wine, and he and Roland spent much of the evening verbally fencing over why Whitetree should consider extending his transportation routes to Dragonsreach. He did seem a bit interested in Heritage, but I think it will be a hard job convincing him to come to the city. I found the whole conversation rather dull and tried to keep my own contributions lighter and more entertaining. The fireworks were spectacular. I tried to engage Josef Whitetree in conversation about the display, but had little success.

    Latan was behaving a bit oddly the whole evening. At first I thought it due to her discomfort with the crowds, as it had been quite a press during the parade. But after Master Whitetree departed, she revealed that she'd somehow sensed he was an undead creature! I don't know how she could sense this, but I suppose it must be either one of the Lady's blessings or a talent of her people.

    We all went off at once to the Lady's temple to send a message back to Dragonsreach. Roland spoke with Father Borabyl via a scrying bowl and told him of Latan's suspicion. It seems that the priests have suspected something similar, but had no proof. Oddly, when Roland attempted to determine if Master Whitetree was an evil being, he sensed no evil. We are on our guard now, but we have an appointment to go riding tomorrow with Master Whitetree. I wonder what revelations that occasion may bring.
    It's all fun and games until someone loses a die.

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    Enjoy these story hours:
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    A Troubling Day

    Master Whitetree arrived before dawn to meet us for our ride, but prior to that we discussed whether we ought to reveal our knowledge of his 'condition'. We came to the conclusion that we would defer to Roland's judgement, but most of us - especially Hedrin - felt it would be unwise to broach that subject. Master Whitetree might see such a revelation as an insult or even a threat.

    He'd brought his nephew Josef with him again, although the cobbler didn't look at all pleased to be there. I wonder why the merchant persists in bringing his nephew along. I'm beginning to suspect it's simply because Josef is his only living relative. I have reason to believe the merchant is quite a lot older than he looks, at least for a human.

    It turned out that Master Whitetree had a specific destination in mind for our ride together: he wanted to visit a family plot at a cemetery outside of the town. Latan had to ride alongside Hedrin to aid him with his horse, as he isn't an experienced rider, and animals always seem to react poorly to his presence. Percy was torn over whether to remain at Silver Cottage, but decided that his place was with the rest of the Silver Claws on our mission. I tried again to engage Josef in conversation, with no more success than the previous evening. Roland chatted with Master Whitetree about his travels, learning that the merchant has been all over Toril, even to far-off Maztica!

    When we arrived at the cemetery we tethered our horses outside the gates, next to two huge statues of gargoyle-like creatures. Latan and Percy remained with our mounts for the moment. Master Whitetree led us toward a larger monument displaying a statue of a woman. Before I could read the insciption, I realized we weren't the only visitors in the burial ground. Several fierce-looking men resembling Tuigan barbarians rushed out of hiding from behind other monuments and mausoleums, brandishing weapons.

    Hedrin raced over to aid Master Whitetree, as the barbarians seemed to be focusing their attention on him. I began to recite the most inspiring poem I could think of, from one of the sagas of the fall of Myth Drannor. We were obviously outnumbered. Latan came running through the gate and hurled a ball of flame at one of the attackers, but her flames flew wide. I wrapped my new duelling cloak around my arm and prepared to draw my blade. Poor Josef, being a shoemaker not a warrior, made for the horses as fast as his legs would carry him.

    I was concentrating on my recitation, and on the two barbarians who were running toward me, so I didn't see all of what happened to Hedrin, but he evidently fell to a grievous wound. Latan rushed over to administer a healing spell, but she said later that at the time she wasn't certain it would be enough to save him. Then suddenly he sprang back to his feet and began stabbing and slashing at his opponents with amazing precision. At the same time, Master Whitetree seemed to stop moving and merely stood there as if unconcerned with the battle.

    Percy came running in and stood beside me with his ever-present stool in hand; that is what made some of the other militia members in Dragonsreach fail to take him seriously as a fighter, but Percy is very clever with it. Unfortunately one of the barbarians struck him a heavy blow and he fell to the ground. I drew my wand of curing and gave him what aid I could. I had tried to cast a spell upon myself to make myself harder to hit, but one of the barbarians was too threatening and I lost my concentration. I took a fairly serious wound, but in the heat of the moment I hardly noticed. I suddenly felt that I could move with greater alacrity than usual, a blessing of the Lady. I decided to change my position on the field of battle and one of the barbarians struck me again, leaving me in very poor condition. The Lady's blessing gave me the swiftness to heal myself and then strike my opponent.

    Roland began giving an inspiring oratory of his own. Latan hurled bolts of cold energy at the barbarians. Hedrin was still slashing and stabbing, augmenting his rapier with the mysterious energy he wields - Latan told me it was silver this time, the Lady's color, rather than its usual black! I kept slashing the barbarians with my thinblade, surprising myself with both my ability to attack succesfully and to injure them. Thanks to the Lady for all her mercy!

    Roland shouted, "Press the attack whle they're still going for Whitetree's illusion!" I don't believe Master Whitetree had any illusion in effect; Roland was merely trying to mislead the barbarians. I made my way toward the monument where the merchant and Hedrin stood surrounded and disabled one foe, then used my greater speed to rush to the other side of the monument and attack once again - though sadly I failed to strike my target.

    Master Whitetree began moving again as abruptly as he had ceased, spinning and attacking my foe. I realized then that only one barbarian remained on his feet. We all attacked him as one, having seen that many of these barbarians were very hardy, and were further strengthened by their fury. Percy ran up behind me and administered a wand of curing, and Hedrin sent the last enemy to the afterlife with another blast of his silvery energy.

    I sagged wearily against the monument, which turned out to be dedicated to Master Whitetree's wife. She had passed on some 60 years earlier - hence my claim that he is far older than he appears, as he looks like a man in early mid-life. He was covered with slashes, but there was no blood visible. Roland lent him his cloak to cover all the damage, as there was nothing we could do to help him other than a few mending orisons. Hedrin was even more exhausted than I, barely able to sit up. He thanked Master Whitetree very earnestly for helping him, though I didn't find out why until later.

    Latan searched the bodies of the fallen barbarians for any clue to their reason for setting upon Master Whitetree, but found little beyond a few gold pieces. Once we had recovered our strength a bit we gathered up the bodies in one place. It's amusing to me to realize that even then, when I was so weary, I was still stronger than any of my friends. Ada has always said I'm far stronger than I look.

    The battle had happened so quickly that Josef hadn't even been unable to untie the horses properly, and was trying to ride off with the whole string of mounts in tow. Hedrin could barely get back in the saddle without assistance. We rode back to town and Master Whitetree took his leave of us after expressing gratitude for our aid. Then we returned to Silver Cottage to refresh ourselves. We'd all realized that though it was scarcely mid-morning, we had various competitions to participate in later in the day. Hedrin reluctantly drank a potion to restore some of his lost strength. He explained that when he'd fallen, he had seen a silvery plain that he could recall little of now. But somehow Master Whitetree had aided him. It was rather disturbing, but does not seem evil.

    Hedrin managed to reach 23rd place out of 158 contestants in the swordsmanship contests, despite his diminished condition. Roland performed admirably in his recitation of "The Mirror of Her Eyes". And I was very pleased with my own performance of the "Lay of Release From Bondage", although I owe a great deal to Latan for her magical accompaniment. Tomorrow is the limerick contest, which should be entertaining though I have no illusions of my own success against gnomes and dragons. Hedrin will also be competing in a marathon run around the town. We can only hope that with the Lady's blessing, Master Whitetree will be grateful enough to come to Dragonsreach.
    It's all fun and games until someone loses a die.

    Elves - anything you can do, they can do better.

    Enjoy these story hours:
    Shadows of Greatness
    Heritage of Dragonsreach
    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw Cannith
    A Journey to the Sea
    The Viridian Legacy

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    Very nice! Accurate, too!

    The GM approves...

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    Very excellent, Sniffles! What would we do without you?


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    Popularity

    This visit to Milvarune is becoming more and more interesting, though it remains to be seen whether that is for good or ill.

    After my performance of "The Lay of Release from Bondage" concluded, Roland, Latan and I went out to enjoy ourselves a bit among the other festival-goers. I found I'd acquired some followers who seemed to be quite impressed by my recitation. I'm not certain whether to be flattered or embarrassed by their attentions, but I didn't deny them the opportunity to buy our dinners and purchase us rounds of drinks. I think their presence troubled Latan, though, as she soon retired to the cottage.

    Roland went off to seek companionship and entertainment elsewhere, and I found myself roaming about the town in the company of my new 'friends' for a time. When I returned much later to Silver Cottage I found that my friends were concerned over Percy's absence. He'd been gone many candlemarks and the other servants did not know where he was. Roland at last woke young Troy to ask him what he knew. Percy had evidently gone off to the Lady's temple. Roland was rather worried by the note he left, and he and Latan went off to the temple to seek Percy while Hedrin remained at the cottage to tell me what had occurred when I returned.

    When they came back later they told us that Percy was doing penance. He evidently felt very disturbed by having taken the life of one of the Tuigan barbarians who attacked us in the cemetery. I don't believe that the Lady holds him in any reproach for this, nor do any of the rest of us feel as mortified as Percy. But I suppose that if his all-night prayers gave him any relief from his pain then all is well. I feel oddly distanced from the deaths we caused. I suppose the festival and the affairs with Master Whitetree have kept morbid thoughts from my mind.

    On the following day Hedrin was scheduled to participate in the marathon. He woke rather later than he wanted but he needed the rest. Roland and I went to cheer him on at the start of the race. It winds all around through the hills about the town, so that it isn't possible for anyone to watch the marathon in its entirety. Hedrin had no illusions of winning, but he was very pleased that he was able to finish the race without collapsing from exhaustion as so many of the competitors did.

    In the evening I participated in the first round of the limerick contest. I did rather well, if I do say so myself. Better than I expected. Before that I cast a spell of healthful rest for my friends, who were all still a bit worse for wear after the fight at the cemetery and other exertions. Thank the Lady it's a very long-lasting spell.

    Roland has found a lady friend, a young lady named Mirrian who has evidently become very enamored of him - although I'm not certain how pleased Roland is by this development. He's too charming to show any dislike, however. While we were visiting a fine tavern Roland began encouraging all of my followers (they'd found me again) to chant my name until I was called on for an impromptu performance. I decided on a more humorous piece than my poetry recitation and told the story of "The Knight and the Chessmen", which seemed to entertain them all well enough.

    When we all got back to the cottage we found that Master Whitetree had contacted Latan and invited us to join him for the riddle competition on the last night of the festival. Latan had accepted and in return asked him to dine with us before the contest. It should be a most interesting evening. Roland had heard a few comments made about town when Master Whitetree retreated to his ship to recuperate after the cemetery experience. It's very odd to think that this man, who has a great wealth of knowledge and experience according to Hedrin, is also an undead thing. Perhaps not all such undead are evil as I'd always read.

    Hedrin had signed up for the wrestling challenge on the next day, and we all went to watch - by we I mean not only all our friends, even Percy, but also Mirrian and all of my hangers-on. I must admit I'll be glad to return to Dragonsreach and escape their attentions, although I'll also be sorry to lose their enthusiasm - no one at home will give me such flattery. Hedrin was first to be called to the ring, much to our surprise. But we were even more amazed when we heard the name of his opponent: Diceros Sondaicus, last year's winner of the contest - and one of Lerner Provol's companions! We didn't see any sign of his compatriots, though.

    He's an enormous man, nearly oblivious to pain that would crumple the rest of us. He grabbed hold of Hedrin the moment the match began, and Hedrin was obliged to use his claws to try to get free. I thought I heard bones pop when Sondaicus squeezed him. Then the huge man sent Hedrin flying across the circle like a child flinging a rag doll. Hedrin flipped over the instant he touched the ground and righted himself very cleverly. Then Sondaicus grabbed him again and squeezed even harder, and Hedrin went limp. Once Sondaicus had tossed him away again the healers rushed out and so did Latan. They wouldn't let her administer any of her healing magic to Hedrin. The healers had to minister to the claw wounds that Hedrin had given Sondaicus as well. Hedrin's silver and black energies seemed to have hurt the man a bit more than one might expect.

    Roland went over to congratulate Sondaicus, and in the course of the conversation remarked on the presence of a giant in town, which seemed to pique the huge man's interest. Hedrin had once again sensed the giant Laupik, and I think Sondaicus would have liked to pit himself against a giant. Roland didn't bother to tell him the giant is a shaman.

    Once he'd recovered, Hedrin told us that before the match began he'd said to Sondaicus that the Lady's priests would like to see him, and Sondaicus had responded by saying, "See you later" in a manner that didn't seem altogether friendly. I hope that the rest of his friends aren't waiting somewhere in town. I've no desire to meet them now.
    It's all fun and games until someone loses a die.

    Elves - anything you can do, they can do better.

    Enjoy these story hours:
    Shadows of Greatness
    Heritage of Dragonsreach
    The Collected Journals of Artemis Heuw Cannith
    A Journey to the Sea
    The Viridian Legacy

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